Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Rain, science and politics

It seems my leaving the laundry on the line trumped Belinda's putting away her deck chair cushion. We're getting all summer's rain at once. Happily, there's no wind involved and we're well above sea level. We were warned that the ground was too dry to absorb the heavy rain and to expect some flooding. That doesn't seem to be the case. My stream is still dry and the ground seems to be happily absorbing the water.

Thanks to Cosmic Variance for pointing me to the New York Times article Scientific Savvy? Jon Miller has conducted this survey every two or three years since 1979. It consists of 278 items including demographics. It includes true/false questions like:
  • Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer.
  • The continents on which we live have been moving their location for millions of years and will continue to move in the future.
  • All radioactivity is man-made.
  • The center of the Earth is very hot.
  • The oxygen we breathe comes from plants.
  • Lasers work by focusing sound waves.
  • Electrons are smaller than atoms.
  • Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
  • The earliest humans lived at the same time as the dinosaurs.
  • It is the father's gene which decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl.

While it is encouraging that results indicate increasing understanding of science in recent years, it is still discouscary (or sad or scarey) that 75% to 80% of respondents do not have a grasp of basic concepts in science.

On the other hand, I'm glad to see Wes Clark engaged in the public forum and perhaps planning a 2008 campaign. Check out his guest posting at Talking Point Memo. It's a joy to see so many respondents to Clark's initial post with literate, insightful comments, questions and ideas. Also, check out Clark's site WesPAC. I supported Clark in 2004 and would be glad to do so again. In 2004, after my initial kneejerk reaction "Oh, god. Not a retired general," I found that he was best educated of the Democratic candidates - well, of all the candidates - and that's definicriterionll my top criteron for choosing a leader.

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